White sand beaches under a tropical sun. No one else in sight, because it's Exmouth, Western Australia and there's no drinkable water, unless you bring your own. The water is blue-green and clear.
Australia is the only place I lived that the Navy offered noobie orientation. They told us about the snakes (all poisonous), the spiders (most poisonous), the cone snails with their throwable darts (poisonous), blue-ringed octopus (poisonous) and stone fish (poisonous, but that didn't matter, since you were most likely to drown, due to trying to scream in pain while underwater). They pointed out that for most things, freezing in place was a good idea, but not for goannas. They would think you were a tree and try to climb you. They warned NEVER NEVER NEVER drink sea water, no matter how thirsty you get. They didn't mention sharks until someone asked about them - sharks weren't considered as dangerous as all the previous perils.
I learned to ride a horse in Australia. Can't remember how it came to be, but I helped a woman with her horses and got to ride one in return. Whenzle was a s**thead, but he sure taught me how to stay on his back. As soon as I figured out a trick, he'd try something new. Once (and ONLY once) he threw me over his head for no reason I ever figured out. But I held onto the reins and must have wrenched his head pretty bad, because it dislocated my shoulder.
He bit me once.
I was at most 17 and they just let me wander where ever on that not-so-stupid horse. In retrospect, I wonder how that came to be, especially since my mother is so afraid of horses.
Joining my mother for a game of indoor cricket only to have the other team members assume I was her sister, because I was 17 at the time and they were used to seeing my mother with my toddling youngest brother.
And now I think of four years before that, when we were still in Washington State. A rare hot day, we went to the state park and I was up to my neck in the water (the Puget Sound doesn't have much in the way of waves normally). Letting the wake waves of passing ships lift me off my feet. One of those ships was the one my father was on - watching it go by was the main reason we were out there that day.
Still Washington State: walking from my house to my best friend's house and eating blackberries straight off the bramble by the road between the two houses. The wretched excuses for blackberries they sell in the grocery stores here are dreadfully disappointing.
Extreme jealously because my brothers could go on Tiger Cruises, but I couldn't because I was a girl. I wonder if that's still true, or if it's the Tiger Cruises that have gone away?
Going to go try that sleep thing again.